Genre: Beat ’em up
Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal
Published by: Ubisoft
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Feeling Like: Punch Drunk Love
It’s appropriate to have Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game directly after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game. Both are Beat ‘Em Ups that are infinitely more enjoyable with friends. Both are based on an existing license that have expanded well beyond their comic book originals. And both have insufferably long names to type out.
Scott Pilgrim wasn’t the revitalizing presence that Castle Crashers was, but it was more than worthy of a full playthrough with Fuzz, Lipsit and Kyla on a cold March evening. This was years before the pixel style retro graphics craze had overwhelmed every indie game, and the animation here looks terrific. More importantly, it feels exactly like the comics. There’s a nice synergy between the movie, the game and the original source material that you don’t often see among cross-content franchises. It helps that the motif IS essentially movies, video games, anime, comic books and all things millennials may love pop culture wise.
It’s more of an evolution than a true revolution of the genre, but has plenty here to keep you entertained. There are callbacks to other beat em ups too which should keep historians of the pugilistic genre happy. No drop in/out online support is a puzzling choice, but this was 8 years ago, and after all, the internet wasn’t really a thing in 2010…right?
Another strength is the music. Again, this came along before chiptune 8-bit music was the craze in nearly everything, so at the time it was incredibly catchy. Give this a listen and let me know if you can somehow resist moving SOME part of your body rhythmically along. Add in upgrades a la River City Ransom and you’ve got yourself a multiplayer slug fest with the ability to customize your fight style, fun boss fights and a great blend of nostalgia and modern updates.
I do recall that enemies blocked too much. This is a common complaint I have with beat em ups in general, and that’s that they typically turn into button mashing, frenzied melees with little organization and loosey goosey fight mechanics. I’m not sure how developers would do this, but I’d love to see some kind of Z-Targeting system implemented. Picture this; you Z-target a specific enemy. Now you’re locked into combat with them, unable to randomly jump away, with the ability to high punch, or low kick, or grapple depending on the enemy’s block pattern. Turn it into a mini-fighter, with the ability to engage or disengage with the press of a button. That way, a very skilled player could get by without ever having his attacks blocked and it would open up a myriad of other options for combos, evasions and precision strikes. Just an idea.
This was one of those instances where we played Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game for a few hours and left it at that. I remember liking the comics, liking the movie and the game all equal amounts, but not quite enough to make a massive lingering impressive. Just a pleasant reminiscence that in my mid 20s, I found a creative adventure about a young man’s journey for love through Canadian pop culture and video game nostalgia.