Scott Pilgrim versus the World: The Game – Complete Edition Review: Double Nostalgia
“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a fun trip back in time for fans of the original, though its flaws are evident over a decade later.”
Easy to learn and play
Weak bonus modes
Scott Pilgrim versus the World: The Game – Complete Edition consists of two layers of nostalgia. On the one hand, the game itself is a throwback to the old rackets filled with retro gaming Easter eggs. On top of that, the Scott Pilgrim franchise even now exudes its own nostalgia, which makes it as much a blast of past novelty as the games it references.
Fans of the game have dreamed of this moment for years. Ubisoft was originally released in 2010 and abruptly removed the game from online marketplaces in 2014 due to licensing issues. In over a decade, no one has been able to buy it, which sparked talks about the proper preservation of the game while adding an air of mystique that kept the game dear in players’ hearts. With the game’s return in 2021, players will no longer have to rely on their fond memories to keep it alive, good or bad.
While it has been surpassed by similarly crafted games over the past decade, Scott Pilgrim versus the World: The Game – Complete Edition is a fun but easy journey back in time for fans of the franchise. Although the signs of aging are difficult to avoid like the starting material in 2021.
Scott Pilgrim versus the World: The game is easy to explain: it’s a beat-em-up-style side-scroller that deliberately draws on retro titles like Streets of Rage. The source material is particularly suitable for this genre. In the comic series, the title Scott Pilgrim has to win the affection of his friend Ramona Flowers by fighting her seven “bad exes”. The game follows the same basic storyline with seven levels, each culminating in a fall against an ex (and another self-reflective showdown with Scott’s own doppelganger).
The original game’s forte has always been its clever connection to the history of the franchise. The structure of the comic fits the genre, of course, so the old-school brawler format feels more purposeful and less like simple nostalgia. The fact that the comic itself is full of little nods to the era just makes the pairing a breeze.
It remains a perfect companion for fans of comics or films. The art, tone and story line up perfectly with the work of author Bryan Lee O’Malley. Even if I come back to it more than five years since I last looked at the show, nothing feels in my memory. In some ways, the game is even better at avoiding some of the less flattering elements of the comic and film.
Public opinion about Scott Pilgrim has changed over the past decade. While many fans fell in love with the nerdy coming-of-age story in the late 2000s, it has been under scrutiny in recent years. Plot points that once flew under the radar of readers, like the 23-year-old hero’s awkward relationship with a high schooler, have a different weight in a modern, socially conscious context (developer Ubisoft has found itself in a similar situation following a wave of abuse allegations in the studio last summer). Given that the re-release will bring fans back a decade, this type of re-examination of a formative medium is not only inevitable but healthy too.
It remains a perfect companion for fans of comics or films.
Fortunately, video game customization passes the smell test better than other arms in the franchise. Simplified storytelling leaves out the fine details a decade later, to its accidental benefit. In some ways, this package is the best way to get in touch with the property in 2021, for fans who are nervous about how it is holding up.
When it comes to fighting, nothing makes the game too complicated. There is a light attack, a heavy attack, a block, and some special abilities. Anyone who has ever played this style of play will likely have no problem figuring it out which is important as the game is best enjoyed as a casual co-op multiplayer experience that players can quickly immerse themselves in.
As a throwback bat, the game is deliberately reduced. The attacks are simple and there isn’t a lot of variety from character to character other than changed animations. Any added complexity comes from the lightweight RPG system that allows players to increase their stats by purchasing items and adding 16 new moves through a level-up system. Once each ability is unlocked, the battle feels a little more varied, although the four hour main story is almost over if players naturally reach that point.
For those who have never played before or have oversized memories of the original release, some context goes a long way here. The game was originally released with the film as a $ 10 digital title. It was essentially a title that gave fans the chance to continue their love for the estate for a few extra hours. It’s also important to note that it was released at a time when throwback bats weren’t particularly common, so it could build on the success of indies like Castle Crashers. For 2010, the retro fight was an exciting sale in itself and remains charming here.
The fact that Scott Pilgrim now feels just as retro and outdated as the games he is referring to is just a bit of inevitable irony.
Even so, it is difficult not to place the game in a modern critical context, as the source material is being re-examined today. Retro thugs are a dozen these days, and Scott Pilgrim feels like a step back, even a step backwards. Last year’s standout Streets of Rage 4 demonstrated how a brand new beat-em-up can feel like a modern game, fast and fluid, without sacrificing nostalgia. In comparison, some of Scott Pilgrim’s mechanical parts have not aged well, such as poor air control or tricky hit areas.
This is not a remake, so gamers shouldn’t expect any gameplay updates here. However, the fact that Scott Pilgrim now feels just as retro and outdated as the games he is referring to is just a bit inevitably ironic.
Complete, but still sparse
The release will be billed as a full edition as it includes all of the DLC from the previous game. This includes two additional characters, some modes, and online multiplayer support. The final track is the most important recording as its absence in the original release was a scratch back in 2010. Given that local co-op isn’t an option for most players right now, playing online offers yet another fun game night option for friends cooped up inside.
Make no mistake: the spectacle is the real product here.
That being said, the “full” nickname doesn’t matter much. The bonus characters play more or less the same as the others, and the modes that have been added are little more than fluff. It’s hard to imagine that even the die-hard fan could get out of mere competitive modes like Dodge Ball for more than half an hour. Aside from a Boss Rush option and online leaderboards, there isn’t much to come back to after the brief story, which makes it an even shorter makeover than I originally thought.
For many fans, the additional content is hardly important. The fact that the game exists again is a win for those who feared that there would never be a way to play it again. It’s a solemn excuse for die-hard people to invest some money in elaborate physical expenses to make sure it is never lost again. Make no mistake: the spectacle is the real product here.
The existence of the Complete Edition is more of a symbolic victory than anything, and that may not mean much to people who have never played the original. In terms of face value, it’s an average exchange of blows that is good for a few hours of casual multiplayer play with friends. But for those who have long wondered about the one who escaped, it’s a fairy tale ending come true.
Scott Pilgrim versus the World: The Game – Complete Edition is a much-needed re-release that faithfully preserves the long-lost original. The outdated beat-’em-up combat and light features may not do justice to the fans’ almost mythological memory, but only figuring out this is a win in itself.
Is there a better alternative out there?
Streets of Rage 4 is the current king of the hill when it comes to retro co-op brawlers.
How long it will take?
The story will be over in about four hours, and the additional modes likely won’t add more than an hour or two to the experience.
Should you buy it?
Yes. It’s exactly what it needs to be for fans of the original targeting here, though newbies probably won’t get what all the fuss is about