Game name: Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game Complete Edition
Release date: January 14, 2021
Available on: Ubisoft Connect
Genre: Beat ’em up
Developer: Ubisoft/Engine Software
Disclaimer: Review code provided by Ubisoft.
Back in 2010 something weird and wonderful happened in the world of gaming: a movie tie-in videogame came out and was not only good but great. Of course, such strange happenings always come with a caveat, and in this case, said caveat was that the game didn’t launch on PC. What was the game? Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, which ten years later has finally found its way to our platform of choice, as a Complete Edition that includes the two DLC packs that were released for the original game (which, as it often happens with licensed games, was delisted from the Xbox and PlayStation stores in 2014). So, did this anomaly stand the test of time? Read my review to find out!
The Scott Pilgrim universe itself is pretty much perfect for a videogame (after all, even the movie was paced like a game) so could be one of the reasons for this title’s uncanny ability to shield itself from the most common movie tie-in pitfalls. Honestly though, saying that sort of strikes me as being incredibly unfair to developers who worked tirelessly to create something that’s still fresh and exciting twenty years after its original release. Usually, movie tie-in games are relatively quick jobs, because the license holder needs to have the game at the same time as the movie, and that has far too often resulted in an inferior experience for players (who then, in turn, claim the developers to be hacks, talentless, etc. without thinking about the harsh development conditions for such releases). Witnessing something of the quality of this title is a rarity then, considering how these games usually come to life.
And indeed, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game probably gave players a very welcome surprise upon first launching it, as instead of being just a standard beat ’em up, they found that Ubisoft had crafted an incredibly tight street brawling experience that’s pretty much perfect for couch co-op gaming. If the gorgeous art style wasn’t enough to telegraph the game’s quality to first time players, its beautiful map selection probably did the job, as it perfectly does the job a brawler overworld must do while at the same time looking super stylish (and that’s going to be a constant with the entire game).
Of course, level select screens and classic brawler ideas can only carry a game so much, right? Well, the good news is that the gameplay loop featured in this title can pretty much carry the rest of the game for the four or so hours it lasts if you are only doing the campaign mode. There’s six characters available (two were DLC in the original release but they are now included in the game from the start) and each of them has their own fighting style. Three difficulty modes ensure that pretty much everyone can enjoy the adventure (and if you find the Easy mode tough, there’s always the option to grind for money in-game and boost your stats). As it’s usually the case with side-scrolling brawlers, we have a set amount of lives, but once again, grinding can increase that number in order to give us some leeway should we find a particular section of the game a bit hard, and there is a pretty cool mechanic where we can come back to life after being downed by using some of our “Gut Points” (which are otherwise reserved for special attacks or summons).
The brawling part itself is very responsive and fights are often a chaotic display of awesomeness, with enemies coming our way, picking up weapons or scenery clutter (such as trash bags, baseballs, street signs, etc.) and throwing them our way or using them as improvised weaponry. Of course, we can pay them with the same coin, so it’s not rare to see the screen full of things flying from one end to the other. The hit reactions ensure that fights always feel rewarding, and if that wasn’t enough, damaging or defeating opponents will grant us coins, which we can spend later on in order to purchase useful stuff like health top-ups, items or stats increases (playable characters have four different attributes, Defence, Speed, Strength and Willpower, and increasing them with cash will turn us into unstoppable brawling machines with time). Still not enough? Well, what would you say to a level system where our character not only gets progressively stronger but also learns new combos? Because this game has that too!
World traversal is a fun activity on its own, even when we aren’t facing off against a bunch of baddies hell-bent on cutting our time on this Earth short. There’s the usual left-to-right scrolling found in similar titles, and then there are also special doors that lead to a different dimension of sorts, which is named Subspace, and acts as gateway to certain bosses, as well as a bonus level of sorts where you can get cash from floating piggy banks or money blocks that will instantly remind you of a certain game starring a plumber. Playing in co-op activates an extra function for this area, as it also lets us share our resources with our mates (which is a very helpful feature that I wish more games of this type implemented).
The cooperative experience is overall pretty cool as well (you get co-op specific team attacks and other cool stuff), and if you are anything like me, it will probably extend your playtime for far longer than the four/five hours that the main campaign will require. This Complete Edition also includes four extra game modes (Dodge Ball, Survival Horror, Battle Royale and Boss Rush) but they are only playable in couch co-op (the main campaign can be played online, which sounds like a far easier thing to set up right now with the ongoing pandemic).
Moving on to the audiovisual front, I’ve probably said this once or twice already during this review, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game Complete Edition is an absolutely gorgeous title to experience. The art style evokes the classics from the past while at the same time injecting its own brand of stylish rebelliousness, and everything works perfectly in tandem with the gameplay. It’s very hard to mis-identify weapons or enemies, and the animation work is phenomenal. I had the idea in my head that the game would have held up a lot worse than it actually did, and if you showed me this game today without telling me it’s actually a remaster of sorts of a 10 year old title, I would believe you without questioning anything. The soundtrack is also extremely good (I usually mute games when I tab out of them to do something else, and in this case, I only did it once, and it was because I needed to listen to voicemail).
Performance-wise, the game performs pretty much as you might have expected from a 2D beat ’em up (that is, like a dream) and on the stability front, I didn’t experience any crashes or bugs, though online sessions weren’t super stable (this could be attributed to me playing with random teammates, however, as no one of my friends owns a copy of the game yet). The couch co-op experience was flawless using two Xbox 360 controllers though.
Overall, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game Complete Edition is as fresh and exciting today as it was ten years ago. This is one of the best beat ’em ups I’ve had the pleasure of playing during the past decade, and I sincerely hope that it will finally be able to stay on sale for a long time, because its original removal from online shops prevented millions of players from experiencing an adventure that deserves to be played and replayed countless times. I do wish that the name was shorter though…
9.5/10 – Excellent