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Review: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

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There are few cases of video games based off of movies and comics that try to break the mold and try something new and different. Indeed, with Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game the developers could have thrown together a 3D model of Michael Cera and create another generic and boring video game tie in.

Thankfully that’s not what Ubisoft did here – taking advantage of the comics/movies homage to retro video games by creating the entire game out of pixel art (or sprites as they were known back in th’ day). The visual style proves to be a welcome change of pace from the multi-milion polygon rendering behemoths of todays typical video game.

Animation is generally pretty smooth too, though there seems to be too much “emphasis” on the, err… breast physics of female bystanders, and there seems to be a lack of variety among enemies – it’s not uncommon for your screen to become filled with clones of the same old bad guy. I’m not expecting every single enemy I encounter to be unique, but there’s something wrong when all I’ve got are three identical douchebags to pound on screen at a time.

Scott Pilgrim takes its gameplay from retro beat ’em up games – you walk down a linear path beating up pawns who really should know better before getting to the stages boss. It’s a simple formula but it works well – and the addition of four player co-op certainly adds some extra enjoyment to the title – it’s just a shame that said co-op is offline only.

But don’t assume that Scott Pilgrim is just a copy and paste job – it mixes things up a bit by applying a leveling system that grants you additional moves as you move up the ladder for each of the games four playable characters – accompanying this are numerous shops scattered throughout the levels that allow you to boost your fighting skills such as your strength, defence and health. You can either do this as you go along, or you can grind the easier levels of the game for money so that the later, more difficult levels become easier.

Combat isn’t without its problems though – blocking in particular feels unresponsive and it can be difficult to get out of a barrage of enemy attacks – jumping in particular can feel stiff and clunky at times. Scott Pilgrim is a game that takes some getting used to.

Of course, you can’t have a retro styled game without retro inspired music, and Ubisoft have gone the extra mile here by getting chip tunes band Anamanaguchi to craft the soundtrack. The result is a suite of cheerful, upbeat, and memorable musical pieces (Protip: go and check some of their stuff out – a lot of their music is released free of charge.

Ultimately what you’ve got is a game that ticks almost all of the boxes – what the game does is done well – the only real missing feature is online co-op, but as it stands it’s still one of the best Xbox Live Arcade/PSN Games that I’ve bought to date, and has proven to be well worth the 800 MSP asking price – even during the flood of games at this time of year I still find myself returning to it.

What the game looks like

Scott Pilgrim vs The World in action

The verdict

Good: Retro gaming with a few modern ideas sprinkled on top, excellent soundtrack, high replay value

Bad: Lack of online co-op could be a deal breaker, enemies can get repetitive, controls can feel stiff at times

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