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As a general rule games that are based on movies kind of suck. Take the example of any of the Marvel comics video games based on the movies. They are all without equal in horribility (that’s a new word now.) until the inevitable sequel or ancilarry character from another comic book movie gets hiw own starring vehicle. But the games that are derived solely from comic books alone seem to fare much better, with games that are actually cohesive and fun to play. It’s almost as if just making the choice to make a game based on film automatically dooms it to an amount of failure usually reserved for youtube commenters. So it’s with a heavy dose of caution that I approach anything that is based on a movie. In fact I downright avoid most of that crap.
So when I happened upon Scott Pilgrim VS The World The Game on the Xbox Live Arcade marketplace, I was a little less than enthusiastic. Adding on to that was the fact that I had never seen the movie, read the comics, or particularly cared about Scott Pilgrim and why he had to face the world. All I knew was that for some reason this little game was one of the highest rated on Arcade, and looking it up on the internet only seemed to reward me with an endless amount of glowing praise all directed at the game. So it was looking good. With that optimistic attitude, I went ahead and grabbed the game.
It’s a week later and I’ve never been happier with a single game purchasing decision for reasons that go far beyond the game. To be clear, the game is a gem. It plays like Bad Dudes, or probably more accurately River City Ransom. You’ve got the four characters to choose from. Scott, Ramona, and his bandmates Kim, and Stephen, and then of course if you want the whole experience there’s some dlc tucking away two extra game modes and an extra character, though it adds little if any actual value to the game. Each character has their own unique fighting style, and special moves tied together by a wonderful RPG constructed into the framework of the game. Each character has the ability to level their skills and stats by beating each enemy into coins which can be used to purchase items that level your stats. Instead of raising any of your stats by leveling alone, you will instead learn new moves with each numerical accolade. They start off simple enough, but by the end of the game you’ll be pretty awed by the sense of power this little side scroller can produce. Also the couch coop is amazing, but it would have been nice to see them incorporate Live in the same way that Castle Crashers did. Allowing same screen buddies, and online friends to join forces would have been awesome, but it’s just a missed opportunity here.
But a good beat em up/down isn’t anything without good enemies to pummel, and this game has them in spades. Each level is littered with visually and tactically unique enemies that do enough to keep your interest in them and changing your tactics that you won’t get bored before you hit the end. Of course if you’re even vaguely familiar with Scott Pilgrim, then you know the setup… Scott wants to date Ramona, but in order to do that he must first defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends. So naturally each level ends with a boss fight where Scott takes on one of Ramona’s exes. These fights are always exciting, engaging, and unique to each character’s abilities, and when they range from demon hipster girls, to psychic vegan powers, each boss fight is a tremendous high point. Add in the excellent level design, and one of the most killer chip tune soundtracks since the glory days of the NES, and you start to get the picture. These things are reason enough to buy the game honestly, but here’s some more motivation if you need it…
Before playing this game, I was woefully unaware of Scott Pilgrim, even a little cynical. It seemed that the majority of the people that liked the comics, and movie were the exact kind of people who’s opinions I wouldn’t trust if their tongue came notarized (hipsters). But because I played the game and enjoyed it so damn much I decided to give the movie a spin. I loved it. I was even yelling out stupid things like
“Oh I remember that level!” and… “THEY TURN INTO COINS ON THE MOVIE TOO?!?!”
Now I just feel like an ass for not having been smart enough to see it in theaters, and find myself pricing the graphic novels online. And that’s how these kinds of things should be done folks… if you’re going to tie a game to a franchise then follow the example of Scott Pilgrim. Make something that is well crafted, engaging, fun to play over and over, and actually drives people to enjoy the thing it was derived from and appreciate it further, and not something that makes them want to kill you. (Marvel, you’re on thin ice at this point…)
Scott Pilgrim VS The World The Game is available now on PSN, and Xbox Live Arcade
It was co-developed by Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Chengdu, and published by Ubisoft
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