Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Ubisoft Montreal for PS3 and Xbox 360, originally released in 2010.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World began its life as a comic book by Bryan Lee O’Malley, which has since been turned into a feature film starring Michael Cera as the titular Scott. Roughly coinciding with the release of the movie is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. However, while they share similar release dates in order to capitalize on creating “synergistic value”, the game is actually not based on the movie at all, but rather also based on the original comic book series. Confused? Basically, this just means that the game is designed to be its own experience, to be enjoyed entirely outside of the experience of the movie.

The premise is the same, regardless of the medium: Scott Pilgrim is in love with Ramona Flowers, but he can’t date her until he defeats her 7 evil ex-boyfriends. Having established up-front that the entire premise is rooted in ludicrocity, the developers were free to be as over-the-top as they wanted, and created a 2D sprite-based brawler to tell the story.

The gameplay here is very similar to River City Ransom. Each character has his or her own unique set of moves, and they are able to add to their moveset by gaining experience. You have 2 standard attack buttons which you can use to chain together combos, and you have 2 super moves that drain a bit of your "gut" meter when used.

Your gut meter is separate from your health and can be used to pull off super moves or to call in a “striker”, where a friendly character hops onto the screen for a moment and unleashes a huge damage-dealing move. Also, if you lose all of your hearts (health), some of your gut meter will be transferred into hearts to allow you to get back into the fight without losing a life.


In addition, per standard beat-em-up fare, players can pick up weapons to use against their enemies, but we’re not just talking about the occasional katana or baseball bats; you can use a bunch of things in the environments: trash cans, umbrellas, barstools, plus the bodies of downed friends or enemies. Defeated enemies drop coins, which allow players to purchase health restoratives or boost their stats.


The player can select one of 4 playable characters at the outset, with 2 additional characters being available as unlockables. The original cast includes Scott, Ramona, Kim Pine, and Stephen Stills, and up to 4 players can play via same-screen co-op. There is no online co-op, but that may not matter to those who grew up in the pre-internet days when game consoles shipped with 2 controllers and a game. However, there is also no drop-in/drop-out play, so you’ll need to have everyone onboard from start to finish.


There are definite advantages to co-op play. For one, the game is fairly difficult as a single-player experience, and requires that you level up your character before you are able to easily deal with the later levels. The more players you have, the better chance you stand, but things can get pretty chaotic, and there’s a lot to be aware of to make the most of assisting your partners.


Cooperative play allows players to revive their partners, rather than just getting killed outright when after taking enough damage. When a player has been knocked out and has no life remaining, a 10 second timer will start to count down. If another player can make it over and rapidly press a button, he will resuscitate the character and bring him/her back to life with a bit of health. And, if you do manage to lose your last life, you’ll turn into a ghost for a short time, and you can move around the screen and suck the life out of your friends.


Multiplayer allows you to work with other players to initiate a simultaneous taunt, which allows for a cooperative super move. You can also assist your friends by lending them money to help them buy powerups, or by lending them some of your own hearts. And, like the classic beat-em-ups of old, you can “accidentally” punch your friends during battle.

The game doesn’t simply retell the story of the comic or the movie. Rather, it fleshes out a number of events that didn’t appear in the movie at all due to its shorter format, and it has more of the characters and story elements form the comics. It also very aware of itself as a game, and adds a number of game-related elements that weren’t part of the comics at all. For instance, you’ll find yourself fighting off hordes of ninjas that are entirely unique to the game.


The comics are well-known for referencing a lot of other popular media, especially video games. And since this is a video game, you’ll be treated to numerous references to some of the classics. As mentioned, the core gameplay is very reminiscent of River City Ransom, and there are other touches like the Super Mario Bros 2-style character selection, Street Fighter 2-style K.O.'s at the end of boss encounters, MegaMan-style end-of-level teleportation (with the proper sound effect), and many more. The classic 2D game crowd should be able to pick out plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle references along the way, and that’s part of the charm of the game.


Other classic game staples are bonus “subspace” areas where players can earn extra coins, and a classic overworld map that shows you moving from level to level through the streets of Toronto. There’s even a boss rush mode and cheat codes. One cheat allows 2 players to use the same character (ala the old Street Fighter 2 days), one activates Blood Mode (ala the 16-bit Mortal Kombat days), and there’s one for zombie mode (which will apparently be an option for every game ever made from here forward).


The game has high production values, featuring outstanding art and animation by Paul Robertson, who created most of the game's detailed and charming sprites. The game’s soundtrack was done by hybrid chip-rock group Anamanaguchi.



2D CRED
The game was developed by Ubisoft. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. Well, Ubi has certainly grown from its 2D days and now has offices in many countries around the world. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game was specifically developed by Ubisoft Montreal, in conjunction with Ubisoft Chengdu in China.


Ubisoft Montreal is primarily known for a number of solid 3D titles, including Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and its follow-ups, the Assassin’s Creed games, and a number of titles in the world of Tom Clancy. They did create the GBA version of TMNT, which was a fairly decent brawler with nice sprite art.

The game was designed by Jonathan Lavigne, who went on to found Tribute Games (along with some other ex-Ubi folks), the studio responsible for Wizorb and Mercenary Kings.

0 comments