Back in the 80s and 90s, the beat ’em-up genre was one of the most popular in gaming. At the time, it seemed like the three headed monster (so to speak) was made up of platformers, brawlers and RPGs. Nowadays the genre isn’t as popular, or as prevalent as it was then, but it’s thankfully still got a pulse. Those of us who enjoy it are thankful for that.
In August of 2010, Ubisoft gave the genre one of its better efforts, which went by the name of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. Based on the movie and graphic novels of the same name, it chronicled Scott’s journey from lovesick guy to Ramona’s champion. As such, those who picked up a controller and entered into its pixellated fracas were charged with completing a series of levels, all of which concluded with boss fights against at least one of the colourful haired girl’s ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends.
Now, more than ten years later, that beloved beat ’em-up — which unfortunately disappeared from digital storefronts after a while — is back. Titled Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition, this Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch remaster is the definitive version of a fan favourite game. It’s a welcomed sight for many, and something that has been celebrated since its announcement. All for good reason, too.
I thought I’d purchased the original version back when it came out, but I’m not so sure about that now since I couldn’t find it. I do, however, remember watching friends play it and maybe even playing it there myself. I’d asked them to wait for me, so that we could beat it together, but that didn’t happen.
To be honest, though, I’ve always been daunted by Scott Pilgrim’s difficulty. It’s always been called a difficult game, and that was the impression I got from the start. Furthermore, those two friends told me that it took a lot of grinding to be able to complete, and that’s never really been my thing. I don’t normally enjoy or like games that are designed to be cheap or difficult, nor do I like rogue-likes. I avoid any game with comparisons to Soulsborne, too.
When I heard about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition, I told myself that I’d give it a shot and try to beat it, because not having done so was bugging me. Thus, when we were provided with a review code, I happily snapped it up and looked forward to righting this wrong. Something that I ended up doing this weekend.
The thing about this game is that, while it starts off very difficult, it gets a hell of a lot easier over time. That is, if you happen to save money and purchase the correct upgrades. You need to know that, going in, the enemies and stages will be much more difficult than those at the end, and by a large margin. Hell, I was pummelling bosses after a while, without a worry in my head. They could barely land a shot.
You’ll begin this retro, NES/SNES inspired brawler in the middle of a cold Toronto winter. There, you’ll traverse snow covered suburban streets and a chilly park, en route to a more bustling area that offers multiple types of shops and restaurants. From there, you’ll explore a film set in Casa Loma, a concert venue inspired by Lee’s Palace, a Japanese restaurant, an apartment block and more. All the while you (and up to three friends, through either local or online play) will face off against tons of devious baddies. As per usual, they’ll come in various sizes and strengths, including basic grunts, weapon wielding asshats and chubby guys who have more strength and padding.
Things begin slowly, and so does the combat itself. Then again, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game was never the fastest beat ’em-up, or anywhere close. Although it gets more involved, a bit quicker and more action packed as you progress, thanks to new moves and upgrades, it remains a heavier brawler than some of the faster-paced games of this era. You’ll notice a massive difference in speed and skill, though, as you level your character up.
You see, Scott and friends can level up to a max of 16, and they earn new moves each time. You can also upgrade their health, speed, power, defence and special meter by purchasing the right things in shops. For instance, the first secret shop offers a powerful arm upgrade that seemingly doubles the strength of each hit, while the video store provides very cheap and helpful upgrades if you pay off Scott’s insanely high late fees. We’re talking about $504 worth of them. This will take a while, but you may get the opportunity to do so closer to the end of the game.
My friends meant it when they said that grinding was the key to beating this campaign. Although it’s never been my favourite thing to do, I spent a decent amount of time replaying certain levels early on. Of course it helped that I was getting my ass kicked by the next stages and needed to bulk up. In the end, I completed the first stage numerous times, and also spent a good amount of my play time in the Casa Loma, cave and Japanese restaurant levels since they offered the most money. Funds that spilled out of enemies in the form of dimes, quarters, loonies and toonies, and could also be found in secret rooms and locked chests. There were also some nice moments where destroying a number of things within a certain time limit would cause a bunch of toonies to appear.
Earning $500+ took quite a while, but I eventually did it and am glad that I did, because I was able to buy a crap load of upgrades for less than five dollars each. This included 1-ups, which allowed me to go from 2 to 9 and made beating the last level pretty easy. You normally only get three lives, so it was quite the difference.
If you don’t like repetition then this may not be the game for you, but if you’re willing to invest some time into grinding and upgrading your character then you should enjoy it. I was worried that this would end up being quite the investment, but it only took me maybe four hours to get to the end. The unfortunate thing about all of this, though, is that everything is character specific. Thus, if you want to play as someone different — be it Ramona, Knives, Wallace or whoever — you’ll have to start over from scratch. At least the unlocks remain constant throughout the game’s different modes, including online play and mini-games involving dodgeball, boss rushing, multiplayer battle royales and things like that. If you level someone up to 16, you’ll keep that level 16 character no matter which mode you choose.
I thought about playing as a different character, but didn’t feel like doing it all over again. At least not right now. Though, with that being said, I must admit that I did start as Ramona before switching to Scott after about an hour. Both were fun to play as.
Since this is the Complete Edition, it contains all of the DLC that was previously released for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. It mostly has to do with additional characters, though.
I’m glad that I gave this remastered version a chance, because it ended up being addictive and immersive fun. I enjoyed playing through the campaign, and also found the additional modes to be pretty good. I wasn’t able to play multiplayer, though, because I couldn’t find anyone when I tried to connect online, and didn’t have another human being to play couch co-op with.
As mentioned before, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is a retro styled experience through and through. The visuals are stylized to make it look and feel like an NES or SNES game, complete with visible pixels and more simplistic animations. The music also complements this, because it’s all chiptune based. I’ll be honest and admit that it got annoying at times, but I never turned it off or down.
On modern hardware, it looks beautiful and plays just as well as it looks. I didn’t have a single technical problem during my several hours with this game.
At the end of the day, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition is easy to recommend to those with any amount of interest in the movie, graphic novels and/or genre. It’s fun to play alone, and is suited well for multiplayer gaming with friends or strangers. Unless you absolutely hate grinding, or don’t want any RPG elements in your beat ’em-ups, you’ll likely find this a fun and worthy undertaking.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with. We played it using an Xbox Series S.
- Tons of personality
- Does its retro inspiration proud
- Inventive stages and boss battles
- Requires quite a bit of grinding
- Choosing a new character means starting fresh and grinding again
- It's deviously difficult at first, which may turn some off