Nostalgia is a vicious thing – as comforting as it is alarming. It’s a comfort blanket that also serves as a timely reminder of things long lost. The original Scott Pilgrim game and its preceding graphic novels were built on this inescapable feeling. Loaded with game references and showing the lives of adults who refuse to grow up, an old school beat-em-up was the perfect companion piece. Now, ten years later, it’s worth asking if it’s still as good as we remember, or whether perhaps those nostalgia goggles need to come off.
To simply call Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition a beat-em-up may be a little reductive, but we have to start somewhere. As well as this, it also has RPG elements allowing you to level up one of the main cast, including Scott himself, his alter ego Nega Scott, Ramona, Kim and Stephen. This time around, Knives Chau and Wallace Wells are also playable as additional DLC. The charm here is that characters have their own styles and movesets that get larger as you play. You level up with Exp but major stat changes are achieved through its currency system.
Pummeling bad guys makes them explode into coins which can be picked up and spent elsewhere. Generally, you get a dollar at most from early game enemies. This makes the early game shop upgrade “Scott’s late fees” at over 500 dollars a herculean task that might take you the whole game to achieve. You can spend your money on different foods from shops that upgrade HP, WP, Strength, Defense and Speed. The key is that while you may be pretty strong, no stat can climb above 100, limiting the potential damage you do.
That limit is still pretty high, making a maxed-out player’s run through the game very easy, even on the harder difficulties.
Whilst it’s good to limit the player, this sets a fairly concrete ceiling that you can reach in an hour or two. It helps to displace this by giving every character their own progression and ending. You will likely find yourself making your way through just to see what happens to each character rather than caring very much for the RPG side of things. The story itself mimics the graphic novels with its own unique flair. That flair takes the shape of callback stages, strange enemies and, of course, Anamanaguchi’s wonderful chiptune soundtrack.
With the biting frost of Another Winter’s verse and its blisteringly bright chorus, the lazy nostalgia of Leave the Past Behind, and even the surprisingly catchy character select screen – Anamanaguchi have perfected the soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim. It relies on old-school sound and style whilst bringing in its own unique personality. Even after the controversy and delisting of the original Scott Pilgrim vs. the World game, these tunes invaded my skull for years.
The same could be said for the Complete Edition itself. Though fairly simplistic and reasonably limited in scope, there’s something special about this game. It doesn’t feel like a standard tie-in game and, by doing so, sets its own standard. Every inch of its design feels like something built from a love of the novels it gets its name from. Its visuals are blocky and uncomplicated yet surprisingly nice, with all characters having certain stances, enemies having unique animations and its bigger, more intentional moments having distinct charm. There’s subtle intricacy to movement that feels distinct and very charming.
That charm invades its way into the seven central locations, with each being based around the personality of Ramona’s exes. One takes you into a punky music venue; another into a moving film location complete with actors, extras and mascots. This gives the game room to explore different styles and inject it with typical beat-em-up enemies. Those enemies give it yet another way to crank up that nostalgia with foes we don’t tend to see in games as much like aliens, ninjas and more. Levels often involve you scrolling to the right, punching out baddies and moving forward until the boss. This changes around a little with some small puzzles and shops, but it functions more or less the same from start to finish.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game – Complete Edition seems built for multiplayer, what with being able to play with four characters at once – playing with my partner evoked some bitter sweet fun. With drop in, drop out co-op, it’s easy to play for just a few minutes or a few hours. The gameplay is a little more rough than I remember, the game a little shorter, yet its charm and sense of nostalgia remained throughout.
Charm is perhaps the biggest thing Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game – Complete Edition on Xbox has going for it. Unfortunately, the fighting isn’t quite as tight as it could be and occasionally lets down the wonderful music and great visuals. Hits are quite inconsistent, many of the bosses feel a little boring in their moves, and there are still some issues of doors not opening, coins flying into walls and plenty of small but noticeable issues.
If you’re looking for the exact same game you played ten years ago with the new character DLC thrown in, this is exactly what you’re looking for. But it does little to improve the base game, including leaving in one too many bugs, to feel fresh after so many years. Despite its flaws, it’s still a great game – but one that I remember feeling a bit better.