Not so long ago, in the mysterious land of Toronto, Canada (and everywhere else), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game was released for a couple of systems. Then it was delisted from those platforms. After many years of requests, the fans got the various parties involved to come together and re-release it on modern consoles. As one of the first hotly anticipated titles of 2021, can on Nintendo Switch hold up to the nostalgic hype and kick all kinds of ass, or does it bleep-ing bleep? Let’s dive into this cult classic and find out.
We are Sex Bob-omb! One! Two! Three! Four!
At its core, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is a solid beat ’em up and was one of the best River City / Kunio-kun types of game at the time it originally launched. The game supports one-to-four players via online or couch co-op, and I strongly recommend playing with at least one other person if possible.
There are seven different characters — Scott, Steven, Kim, Ramona, Knives, Wallace, or Nega-Scott — who set out to beat up the nastiest denizens of Toronto and make them explode into money. Leveling up gets you new moves, but stat increases come from items you can buy in stores. After a couple of areas, you’ll face a boss — usually one of Ramona’s evil exes — and be rewarded with a little scene of Scott and Ramona making out while their friends watch uncomfortably. The story unsurprisingly simplifies the source material by just being about beating the bad guys in the name of love. From beginning to end, the whole game takes around four or five hours with each character.
There are a few extra modes thrown in for spice, some of which were previously unlockable or DLC. There’s Boss Rush, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Survival Horror has you fighting a zombie horde for as long as you can. Battle Royale lets players duke it out in the ring, and there’s a delightful if not basic Dodge Ball minigame.
Scott Pilgrim is familiar in more than one way
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition has some amazing things going for it, even today. First and foremost, the music is incredible. Chiptune band Anamanaguchi pulled out all the stops to craft catchy melodies that have been playing in my head for over 10 years. The sound design in general is great, with each hit sounding crunchy and satisfying. The character designs are also striking, with adorable pixel art based on the comics.
The stages have some pretty cool concepts based on location, ranging from a shopping district to a hibachi restaurant and finally heading to the Chaos Theatre for the final showdown. Most of the bosses are distinct too, and it’s fun to figure out strategies for overcoming them. Todd Ingram, the vegan bassist, is a highlight, and one of the final bosses evokes Final Fantasy in the best way.
One of game’s best aspects for longtime players is its constant homages to other games. The character select screen is directly based on Super Mario Bros. 2, and the world map is inspired by Super Mario World. So many items, animations, scenes, and sounds take cues from the Mega Man series, and references to other classics like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Battletoads, The Legend of Zelda, and River City abound. Nods to other franchise are common in indies these days, but Scott Pilgrim did it earlier and it retains its novelty.
Bread makes you fat?
All’s not so grand in the Great White North, however. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition is a beat ’em up, with all the good and bad that comes from that. Sometimes the enemies swarm you to the point where you can’t do anything but watch your health dwindle away. Sometimes you could swear you hit them, but they’re on a slightly different plane. And sometimes you could swear at the screen as enemies knock you out of a particularly satisfying combo.
It doesn’t help that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition is slow and clunky in every way. Character movement takes just a little too long, and even the rhythm of the fighting and level design suffers from awkward pacing. The game often stops for several seconds at the end of events like boss fights and cutscenes, as if figuring out what to do next. The stores are particularly frustrating with this, and it’s easy to accidentally buy too many things by mashing A.
Speaking of the stores, you don’t know what an item will do until after you’ve bought it. Considering this is the only way of powering up your character, it’s a quality-of-life issue that should have been addressed. In fact, there are no changes from the original release, which itself felt a little low-budget. Finally, the backgrounds are distractingly hideous, and they always have been.
Ultimately, I was disappointed that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game didn’t live up to my memory of it. It’s definitely a product of its time and doesn’t hold up as well as I thought it would. Having someone else to play with goes a long way toward covering blemishes though, as is often the case. (Watch out for friendly fire though.)
Revisiting Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game a decade later
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game tosses out the parable about learning to shed harmful, immature behaviors and growing up, but it keeps the video game homages and superpowers. For better or worse, it might be why it’s remembered so fondly. Stripped of the source material’s heavier moral aspects, fans can experience what initially drew them to Scott Pilgrim without being bogged down by the underlying messages. The characters are colorful, cute, and a little sexy. The music is amazing and never leaves your brain. The little touches and references scattered liberally throughout the game are absolutely delightful, if not a little cliché these days. However, a modern player should know that there have been much better beat ’em ups released since 2010, even a couple in the series that inspired Scott Pilgrim.
Ultimately, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition may not impress players who don’t already have an attachment to the Scott Pilgrim franchise. Those who do have that intimate attachment though will absolutely want to spend $14.99 to relive their memories of this unique little beat ’em up. Either way, having someone else to play it with will crank the whole experience up to 11. This game is so much better with a friend, a roommate, a new girlfriend, a new-new girlfriend, or maybe even an evil ex.
A review code was provided by the publisher.