If there’s one game I’ve wanted to see a re-release for in the past generation, it’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. Not just because I think it’s important for games to be preserved, but because I remember playing it when it launched and finding it to be fantastic fun.
With this re-release, I finally get to go back and re-affirm what I’ve always thought – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game Complete Edition is still a fantastic game and a love-letter to fans of Scott Pilgrim and gaming alike.
Before we go into why I loved Scott Pilgrim, I’d like to take a second to go over my relationship with the series and exactly why I’ve wanted to talk about and return to this game for so long. I’ve been hoping to see it at every Ubisoft conference, I’ve got Sex-Bob-Omb tattooed on my arm, my main avatar is based on Scott Pilgrim and I’ve seen the film and read the book more times than I can count.
Back when Scott Pilgrim was first released, I saw it as this awesome video game-esque movie that showed off nerd culture without being too pandering. I loved the Zelda references, the awesome music and the fight scenes, but I also loved the characters and story. That inspired me to read through the graphic novels, which I enjoyed even more and found that they developed upon everything that the film had set up for me. They’ve got the same great action, but with a greater focus on the characters and their development, and they’re some of my favourite graphic novels even to this day.
Over the years I’ve gone back and re-read those graphic novels and come to understand them a lot more. Scott isn’t a good person, he’s kind of a massive jerk that just lazily walks through life and wrecks stuff, but it’s a story of him getting better and making amends. It’s incredibly relatable as I get closer and closer to his age and see how life throws you curveballs. I wouldn’t go as far as to say Scott Pilgrim is timeless, but it definitely aged alongside me in a way I didn’t expect.
For years now, I’ve wanted to see how my expectations of the game have changed alongside the graphic novels and film. Until now though, that’s literally been impossible. Unless you can get the files online illegally, or somehow have it saved on an old console that isn’t bricked, you literally couldn’t play Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, which is a true shame considering that I remember putting tons of time into it and really enjoying all that I had played.
All of that is to say that going into this re-release, I already knew that I had loved this game, and that I probably still would. It was just a question of if it was worth the long wait, and if the game still holds up now.
I’m happy to report that, beyond a few little problems that hold it back, ten years on this is still one of the best movie tie-ins of all time, and a fantastic game in its own right. Go play Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game: Complete Edition and show why so many people wanted it back.
Although it was released alongside the movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is more of an adaptation of the books, with references to the time-frame and characters who never appeared in the film. In the long-run, this doesn’t matter too much since there’s no dialogue or proper character interaction at all and the endings are non-canon except for one. The story really doesn’t matter here, and is intended for fans of either the film or the books.
That being said, the amount of effort and work that has been put into making this game feel like a part of the Scott Pilgrim universe is incredible. There are references to characters that are only seen once in the books like Mobile, moves that are direct rips from the pages of the books and locations that are important to the story made into shops you can interact with. There’s a ton of references all around to games and film, but it was the Scott Pilgrim ones that really showed how much love was put into the game.
Speaking of love, if there’s one undeniably fantastic element of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Complete Edition, it’s the presentation. I’m shocked that even 10 years on, this game’s pixel style is one of the best and most vibrant in a game to my recollection. It’s incredibly smooth and charming throughout, and really doesn’t look to have aged a day. As for this being an HD remaster, I couldn’t imagine it looking any different than it does now, so there’s clearly been a good amount of work done here.
When talking about this game, there’s one element that always comes up and that’s the chip-tune soundtrack by Anamanaguchi. To this day, it’s still something I have on my music playlists, but it’s great to see it back for the game. It’s energetic, poppy and occasionally epic and it feels like an essential part of the game’s DNA.
Beyond its fantastic presentation, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Complete Edition is a River City Ransom-esque beat-em-up, and a really good one at that. As one of the four main characters, you go through levels based on locations from the books and fight a bunch of minions before coming up against that level’s evil ex boss fight.
It’s simplistic and doesn’t really evolve much beyond being a beat-em-up, but the enemy and location variety keeps things interesting. It’s also incredibly satisfying in a way that’s not easy to describe, but watching enemies pinball between each other and kicking items into crowds feels really heavy and fun. More than anything else, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Complete Edition is just a ton of fun. It’s bright and satisfying, punchy and loud, and just feels really great to play. It doesn’t out-stay its welcome, but it leaves you with enough to be memorable. I like to think that’s why it’s been so requested for so many years.
As you go through each level, you’ll be taking on more and more enemy types whilst unlocking brand new moves for your characters that make things a little bit easier. It’s not an easy game by any means, with the difficulty curve looking like a mountain even on the easiest difficulty. I do wish some of the cheaper parts of the difficulty were tuned, but by the time you reach the max level and have some good moves behind you, you feel like an absolute powerhouse.
The “Complete Edition” of the tagline refers to the inclusion of the two DLC packs that were added to the game at a later date. These packs added online play and some arguably pointless extra modes, but they also added Wallace Wells and Knives Chau into the game. As someone who missed these packs the first time around, I was particularly excited to try these characters out, but I honestly didn’t miss much.
Knives is mostly a clone of Kim, with a unique summon and some unique moves, whereas Wallace is a complete clone of Stephen Stills with some unique rainbow effects added to his attacks. Both of them look awesome and it’s great to have more character choice, but that just means that 3 of the 7 characters are clones of the others, and it’s just a shame more wasn’t done to them.
That means that beyond the novelty of having two fan-favourites back in the roster and the inclusion of online, the “Complete Edition” part of the title feels a little hollow. Sure, it’s fantastic enough that the game is even back, but I would have loved to have some more content in it that felt worthwhile, although that might not be easy to add to something that’s already disappeared on us once.
Sadly this brings me to another issue I have with the game, and that’s how similar the characters feel to one another. The four main characters all have different animations and base movesets, but they also all unlock the same moves as each other in the exact same order. They only end up having two unique unlockable moves each, with the rest being the same throughout. If you’re planning on playing through with each character, it gets to a point of knowing that you simply can’t get too far without certain moves, and just have to grind for it.
Presumably, the grind is nowhere near as hard when playing with other people, but in single-player it can feel a tad unfair at times. It’s still a lot of fun to play thankfully, but it doesn’t stop it feeling like a grind. The best solution for this is to allow players to get 1UPS back without having to unlock the secret shop, as there were a lot of times when I felt like I could have beaten a mission with just one more life.
To be fair, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Complete Edition isn’t a particularly long game in the first place, so the grinding could be a way of adding more playtime to the game. I went through as every character and found more than 10 hours of gameplay, but most people will probably be happy with their one 4 hour run-through. It is admittedly a shorter game than most, but at its price-point, I wouldn’t consider it a complaint, and there’s definitely a lot of replay potential for those who really want it. If you want to unlock Nega-Scott, be prepared for the long haul.
All Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Complete Edition had to do to keep me happy was bring back a title I’d been unable to play for nearly six years. Quite obviously it does that, but I’m shocked at just how great the game still remains, and how much of it is a true love letter to Scott Pilgrim and gaming itself. It’s not the longest or easiest experience, but it’s one that I would urge any gamer to give a go thanks to its satisfying gameplay and fantastic presentation. Don’t let it slip between your fingers this time.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Ubisoft