It’s been quite a while since I last got my mitts on a Scott Pilgrim game. Believe it or not, back in the day I actually reviewed the game on Xbox 360. So, you can only imagine my existential crisis, after realizing the title’s first outing on PC, Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game Complete Edition, was also part of the game’s tenth-anniversary celebration. Good lord, I’ve been doing this for far too long. Poor life choices aside, it was a rare pleasure to get another dose of Scotty P, only this time from behind the comfort of my keyboard.
If you’ve played any of the brawlers that have existed over the last decade (I’m looking at you Castle Crashers) you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Scott’s adventure. Aside from the title of the game being an even bigger bowl of alphabet soup than before, this is essentially the same game, only with a handful of added bells and whistles.
Bring the pain
The plot itself, which was originally aided by the film releasing on the same day, is every bit as crazy as it sounds on paper. Scott and his budding love interest Ramona are looking to take their friendship to the “next level.” The problem is, Ramona has been around the block a time or two, and somewhere along the way ended up acquiring seven evil exes. So, what’s a guy to do when dating someone could result in a molly-whopping that would make even Mike Tyson grimace? Easy. Proactively take the fight to this seven-headed hydra of relationships’ past.
Each stage of Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game Complete Edition plays out as you might expect in any other side-scrolling, ass-kicking, destruction gallery. Only this time, instead of pulling a trigger of a gun, it’s Scott’s “guns” that are the weapon of choice. If he can somehow manage to survive to the end of each stage, he’s treated to an opportunity to dispatch one of the aforementioned corporeal dumpster-fires. But before that can ever happen, he must first wade his way through waves of henchmen, hell-bent on making his life as miserable as possible.
Early on, most enemies feel like the standard, cookie-cutter variety humans, with a serious vendetta against the protagonist. However, the further along in the campaign you proceed, the more outlandish adversaries will become. Have you ever been attacked by a ninja that can both handle a sword and shoot fireballs, simultaneously? How about being accosted by a person in an inflatable dinosaur costume that spontaneously combusts out of the blue? These are just a small sampling of the enemies, just waiting for the opportunity to knock poor Scotty’s block off.
Echoes of the past
Combat feels a bit on the lacking side when you are first getting started. Standard punches and kicks are all that can be used to dispatch hordes of antagonists. However, throughout the course of normal gameplay, experience points are continuously being banked towards leveling up Scott or any additional party members. Each time you level up leads to an increase in stats as well as the unlocking of a new move. These light RPG mechanics are very reminiscent of classics like River City Ransom.
You’ll get the opportunity to try out each new attack as they join your arsenal. The period in between each evolution essentially can be used to experiment and grow accustomed to each new attack. Additionally, this also allows time to determine a legitimate combat style that’s all your own, that’s also constantly being enhanced over time.
Initially, I had difficulty overcoming Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game Complete Edition’s sporadic difficulty spikes. I was getting my ass handed to me in a doggie bag, and there seemed to be no way to pull out of this vicious cycle of self-flagellation. That’s when I remembered that purchasing specific items in the game’s retail establishments can also be used to artificially boost your combat stats and abilities. All it took was one time emptying my wallet in the shopping district’s record store, and I was suddenly so far ahead of the competition that I coasted through the remainder of the narrative.
Sharing the fun
Easily my favorite aspect of Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game Complete Edition’s design is the inclusion of up to four-player co-op. When the title was originally released a decade ago, this feature was only available for local “couch co-op.” However, eventually full online co-op was also patched in via DLC. The problem was, I always found that this functionality worked inconsistently at best.
While I had absolutely no issue playing multiplayer locally this time around, attempting to do the same via online matchmaking was once again met with a resounding thud. Despite having a very strong internet connection, I was never even able to finish an entire stage (regardless of whether I was the host or not), from start to finish. Part of the difficulty was due to the lack of drop-in/drop-out multiplayer. The moment that all teammates’ connections drop, the action is brought to a screeching halt and you’re kicked back to the main menu. And while this is a very discouraging issue, to say the least, hopefully, this is something that the developers plan to address in a future patch. Honestly, given that the multiplayer is such a strong selling point, they really can’t afford to ignore it.
When you look at most re-releases that have hit PC recently, a vast majority of them acquired a few visual enhancements somewhere along the way. In the case of Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game Complete Edition, this is fortunately not the case. It pretty much looks exactly like you remember from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and that is an extremely good thing. Drawing great inspiration from the graphic novel’s aesthetic, the game’s low-fidelity, two-dimensional sprites and animations are a perfect recreation of the world that readers fell in love with eons ago. To the development team’s credit, they knew that the visuals didn’t need to be touched, because it had a timeless charm and appeal that transcends age.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the stellar score, which is once again provided by the incomparable chiptune-inspired rock band, Anamanaguchi. Despite having a name that sounds like something you’d say to an infant while making random “baby talk,” these guys provide a soundtrack that helps breathe new life into Bryan Lee O’Malley’s already endearing world. The OST has actually been a constant presence in my workout playlists for years, so getting the chance to relive it in its original context was an unexpected pleasure.
It would be fairly easy to dismiss Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game Complete Edition as a shameless attempt to squeeze a few more bucks out of a proven property. Fortunately for all of us, virtually everything you loved about the game the first time around holds up fantastically well. Aside from a few minor issues as well as a fairly inoperable online multiplayer (at least at the time of publishing), there’s no reason not to double-dip and give the experience another shot. You owe it to yourself to see what the hype is all about.