A decade is, theoretically, a long time. In video games especially, a decade is enough to see one, if not two, console generations. It’s enough to see advances in technology so incredible that we can now simulate the way light works in real time. But there are some games that stick in your mind, shining out above everything else, that seem to be lost to time. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World was one of those games for me. Releasing at the same time as the movie, but based more heavily on the comic book series, Ubisoft Montreal’s retro feeling side scroller was pulled from stores in late 2014 without much reasoning given. A digital-only title, Scott Pilgrim’s fate looked to be sealed.
That was until the bin-fire of a year that was 2020. Bryan Lee O’Malley and Edgar Wright stoked the flames of the fanbase by tweeting and asking to re-release it for the 10th anniversary, alongside the movie. After a groundswell of support from a dedicated group of Pilgrim players, Ubisoft finally announced in September that the game would indeed be getting a “complete edition” release on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch. The fan in me was delighted. I still have the original game installed on my PS3, and have shamefully neglected it since the PS4 launched in 2013. The nagging question was there though… Could it live up to the memory?
For those who are currently scratching their head and wondering what this is all about, allow me to explain. Scott Pilgrim vs the World is a love story. Well, kind of. Scott Pilgrim is a bit of a slacker, who plays in a band called Sex Bob-Omb. He falls in love with Ramona Flowers, but in order to be with her, he needs to defeat her seven evil exes. In combat. And they all have superpowers. It’s exactly how I remember nights out in Lincolnshire as a single man. In terms of plot, that’s pretty much it. The game itself is a throwback side-scrolling beat em up akin to River City Ransom, with a killer art style, and a soundtrack that is, without question, one of the best video game soundtracks around.
This isn’t a remaster in any sense. With the game trying to emulate a 16-bit art style, things like resolution and frame rate are, at times, meaningless. However, when it matters, the game plays like a dream. The pixelated renditions of O’Malley’s artwork is gorgeous in every scene, with each of the seven levels being a technicolour smorgasboard of chaos. Gameplay starts off at a relatively slow pace, and difficulty ramps up throughout the levels pretty quickly. I had forgotten that there was a bit of a grind to get to a point where you’re able to take on levels with relative ease, centring on picking up the coins that burst from enemies when they’re taken out. My recommendation would be to get to $500 as quickly as possible, then unlock the “Scott’s Late Fees” item from the video store. It allows all of the items in the store to be bought and every attribute bumped for a low price, making everything feel much, much better. It’s a bit of a grind, and one that might turn some people off, but the rewards are worth it. Scott Pilgrim doesn’t necessarily do anything new with beat-em-ups, but what it does do is produce a tight, well playing game throughout. Enemies are varied enough, although some of the attack patterns can feel a little bit on the cheap side as you get into the later levels. The boss fights aren’t quite as impressive as I remember them being either, at least from a gameplay standpoint. Some of them are much more mechanically dense than others, with an obvious standout being Lucas Lee’s “I’m an enemy but a bit tougher” boss fight. However, it wasn’t enough to dampen my spirits of replaying a rejuvenated favourite.
In addition to playing as Scott, you can also take on the roles of the remaining two thirds of Sex Bob Omb, Kim and Stephen, or Ramona herself. Also included in this Complete Edition reissue are the previously DLC-only characters of Knives and Wallace, who you can choose from the get-go and jump straight into either single or multiplayer madness. While my multiplayer has been limited to online only at the minute, it’s proven to be pretty fun and a bit chaotic, which is exactly what the game should be. Also included are the “Battle Royal” 4 player mode, and a Dodgeball mode, which was originally DLC on the PS3/360. Essentially, this is everything that ever got released for the game, and it’s being preserved in the best way possible.
Having said that, I had a real slog getting through Level 3 the first time round. I’d not bought as many upgrades as I probably should have, so that undoubtedly played a part in it, but there were a number of bugged enemies that just didn’t show up at all, but were able to do damage to me, and the first 3 times I finally managed to beat Todd at the end of the level, the game straight up crashed back to the PS5 menu. I’m not the only one to report this so far, so I hope it’ll get patched soon, but I eventually got past him and continued playing.
Finally, a word on the soundtrack. I said above that the soundtrack is one of the best in recent memory, and I stand by that. Anamanaguchi’s frenetic fusion of chiptunes and rock was the absolute perfect choice for this game at the time, and it’s aged like fine wine. From the opening strains to the closing crashes, the energy that is put into the game from the music alone is fantastic. If you’re not tempted to give the game a go, at least get the soundtrack on Spotify or wherever.