It’s hard to think of a licensed game that fit its source material better than Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. First released in 2010, the game felt exactly like an interactive version of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s cult comic book. The story was pared down, but the vibe was the same, thanks to incredible character sprites from Paul Robertson, a banging chiptune soundtrack from Anamanaguchi, and classic beat ‘em up action from a small team at Ubisoft. The problem was actually playing it: a few years after it debuted on the PS3 and Xbox 360, the game was delisted from digital stores.
This week, that finally changes. More than a decade after it first came out, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is coming to a huge range of new platforms: the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, and even Google Stadia. The new version bundles all of the original downloadable content — no paying extra for Knives Chau — and introduces online co-op, but otherwise it’s the same game. Which is exactly as it should be.
So what’s the big deal? For starters, a video game adaptation just makes too much sense. (The game is based on the comics, not the movie.) Not only is Scott Pilgrim jammed with gaming references, it’s structured like a classic game, too, with seven main bosses — in this case, Ramona’s evil exes — to defeat along the way. It all fits very well with a 16-bit style game.
The Scott Pilgrim game plays a lot like Streets of Rage or Double Dragon. You wander through city streets and movie sets, fighting a whole bunch of “bad guys,” ranging from bus drivers to paparazzi. You can jump, punch, and kick, and pick up many objects to use as weapons, whether it’s a snowball or a baseball bat. You can also play as most of the main cast of characters, and they’ll each learn some new abilities as you progress. There are even level and character select screens ripped straight out of the 8-bit Super Mario games, and Street Fighter-style car smashing mini-games.
The gameplay is solid, if not as deep as some of its contemporaries or more recent titles like Streets of Rage 4. But, like the movie version of Scott Pilgrim, it’s also incredibly stylish. Fighting enemies is really just an excuse to see the gorgeous pixel art and listen to the amazing soundtrack. Sometimes, after clearing out a wave of enemies, I’ll just sit for a second to soak in the sound and visuals. I’ve been playing on the PS5 via backwards compatibility, and the experience holds up extremely well.
I also have to note that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is the most prominent video game ever to be set in my hometown of Toronto, so it holds a special place personally. I can’t think of another game where you have to dodge TTC buses or collect toonies ($2 coins) to buy a poutine. My friends from New York, London, and Tokyo can play through huge, nearly photo-realistic versions of their homes, but I’m pretty happy to stick with what Scott Pilgrim has to offer. It’s certainly very Canadian.
Time has been surprisingly kind to the Scott Pilgrim franchise (even if Scott remains a dick). The books hold up well, and the movie went from a box-office bomb to a cult classic; Kid Cudi even sampled it on his most recent album. Meanwhile, the game now has a second chance after being doomed to obscurity years ago. If nothing else, at least O’Malley can finally stop answering questions about it.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game launches January 14th on the Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia.