It's been a pretty wild ride for Ubisoft's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. After its initial release in 2010 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the game was removed from digital storefronts in 2014, leading many to believe that it would never be offered for sale again. Fans desperate for a re-release made their voices heard, however, and the title has finally been made available on modern consoles. In the six years it was absent, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game gained a mythic status, and now newcomers can finally see whether or not it lives up to its reputation with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - Complete Edition, and by and large? It does.
There's never been a brand more suited to a video game adaptation than Scott Pilgrim. The comic by Bryan Lee O'Malley and its live-action adaptation from Universal Pictures both featured a plethora of references to classic video games, so it truly feels like a perfect fit. The title is a side-scrolling beat-'em-up in the vein of genre classics like Streets of Rage. In addition to Scott, players can choose from other members of the franchise's supporting cast, like Ramona Flowers and Stephen Stills, and the game features co-op for up to four players.
Like the comics and film that inspired it, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has Scott on a quest to defeat the seven evil exes of Ramona Flowers. While the beat-'em-up format requires some creative liberties from the source material, it's surprising just how faithful the game feels to the comics and film. It doesn't hurt that both of those works featured a plethora of callbacks to classic video games, so it makes even more sense when enemies here explode into coins, or extra lives can be picked-up. It even feels faithful to Bryan Lee O'Malley's art, with graphics that perfectly evoke the comic.
One of the things that will stand out right from the start is that Scott Pilgrim is not an easy game. The game offers three difficulty levels, and the medium difficulty is a significant challenge that will require players to revisit levels multiple times. The game pits Scott against a plethora of foes, and it's easy to get overwhelmed quickly. What's more, each level takes a pretty decent amount of time to complete, so it can get disheartening when you get a "Game Over" screen after putting 20 minutes into a single stage.
While that challenge can be daunting, there is an upside that gives Scott Pilgrim a big edge over similar arcade brawlers: a level-up system. As Scott and friends take down foes, they gain experience, which results in increased levels, increased damage, and new combos that players can use. When a player loses on a stage, they might have to start over from the beginning, but their increased level remains the same, making the stage a little bit easier the second (or third) time around. It's a shame that more modern arcade brawlers don't include this feature. This simple design decision prevents any play session from feeling wasted, and it gives players an incentive to keep trying a stage after they've lost.
Another element that makes it easier to keep coming back? The soundtrack. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - Complete Edition features an original soundtrack by Anamanaguchi, and it is easily one of the game's biggest highlights. The music is nothing short of exceptional, and every level has a track that will remain stuck in your head long after the console has been shut off. For that reason alone, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - Complete Edition is worth looking into.
Unfortunately, one of the game's technical hiccups does come in the sound department. While I never encountered an issue with the music, I frequently noticed moments where Scott's punches and kicks registered no sound. This consistently happened in the game; there would be periods that it went away, and then it would come back. It's a minor issue, but one I noticed immediately.
That wasn't the only bug I discovered during my playthrough. Once, I encountered invisible foes. This was not an intentional design choice on Ubisoft Montreal's part, but I still had to dispatch them to progress. It wasn't overly difficult to decipher their location, but it was a strange problem, and one that I've seen other players encounter online. This only happened one time, on a stage that I was forced to revisit, so some players might not encounter the issue at all.
For those that have been waiting for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game to return, it seems that the wait has been worth it. The game's steep difficulty might turn off some players, but it's also quite rewarding. Ubisoft created a faithful take on Bryan Lee O'Malley's world, and it's great that a much bigger audience will finally get the chance to experience it. With its incredible presentation, gorgeous soundtrack, and fantastic sense of style, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - Complete Edition channels the heart of its source material in a way few adaptations have managed.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - Complete Edition is now available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna. The game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and it was reviewed on a base model Nintendo Switch.