Despite being a fan of the genre, side-scrolling beat ’em up Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game passed me by when it originally released in 2010.
I always figured I would get around to playing it someday, but then it was mysteriously delisted from digital storefronts four years later without warning. And so, like anything you suddenly can’t have, I really wanted to play Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. Now, in 2021, I can. And you can, too, thanks to the release of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition. But should you?
Closely following the story of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game allows players to take control of the eponymous slacker and part-time musician on a quest to defeat the seven evil exes of delivery girl Ramona Flowers. But to do so he needs to get to them first. Cue seven stages of side-scrolling beat ’em up fun. Players don’t need to play as Scott Pilgrim though, they can also take control of his friends Kim Pine or Stephen Stills if they want. Or even Ramona Flowers herself.
After choosing a character and starting a game, players are presented with a Nintendo-style world map. Of course, only one stage is initially available, but as players progress through the game, they can revisit stages if they want to play them again. And they will have reason to, which we’ll get back to later. In any given stage, players will continuously move to the left or the right, clearing screens of ruffians, ninjas and robots as they go. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition certainly does have a varied range of adversaries.
When it comes to combat, there’s nothing out of the ordinary for the genre. One button performs a standard attack, and can be mashed to create a combo. There’s a strong attack button too, which can be used to end combos or just assault enemies with a slower but more forceful hit. There’s also a button to trigger a special attack that disperses the enemies around you, while another summons in Knives Chau to offer some assistance. Both of these consume some of your Guts gauge, which also enables you to put off death until it’s fully depleted.
In an attempt to give the game more longevity, perhaps, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition tries to spice things up a little by integrating RPG elements. Basically, you gain experience as you play, and upon each level up you acquire a new skill. Some of these skills feel pretty essential though, like parrying and evading. Without building up your stats, you’ll also feel relatively weak to many of the adversaries you face as you move from one stage to the next.
To develop your stats, you need to pick up coins as you play, and with your cash you can buy food and accessories at vendors spread throughout the game’s world. Food items tend to restore your health and guts, and many also increase one or two of your stats. Accessories and other non-consumable objects, such as t-shirts and rental videos, substantially increase your stats but are typically more expensive. To make your way through the game, even on the easiest difficulty setting, chances are you’re going to have to grind from time to time to not only increase your level and unlock abilities that feel pretty standard, but also to earn money, buy items, and increase your stats.
Honestly, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition‘s level and stat system feels like a tedious way of extending the game’s life. It also doesn’t help that shop menus are woefully slow. Once you’ve got a nice nest egg saved up with which to do some serious shopping, you’ll find yourself irritated by how long it takes for you to be able to buy another item after making a purchase. And there’s another issue, too; the grind is necessary for each character you want to play as. You might spend hours developing Scott to be a mighty warrior and eventually start truly enjoying the game. But then, if you switch over to Ramona, you’ll be back at level one.
To further compound your frustrations, you might find the game’s life system a bit irritating. Starting the game with three lives, you’ll play until they’re all depleted. At that point, you’ll be asked if you want to continue, and if you select yes, you’ll be dumped back on the world map with three lives again. So, if you struggle through a stage, finishing it with no additional lives remaining, you’ll enter the next stage destined to fail. Why not just start you with three lives at the beginning of every stage if using a continue has such little consequence other than wasting your time?
While some won’t mind the early frustrations and be quite happy to grind their way to eventual success, there’s a saving grace for those who want to more quickly have fun with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition: a raft of cheats. Like games of yesteryear, a number of codes can be input to quickly gain money, grant access to a powerful sword and more. For some, they really will change the game from being a mediocre experience to a thoroughly entertaining one.
It’s a shame that you have to have to cheat or spend a considerable amount of time developing your characters to make Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition as fun as it can be to play. Because when your characters do have all their abilities at their disposal and have decent stats, it’s a blast. It never reaches the heady heights of Streets of Rage 4, but it’s a solid entry into the side-scrolling beat ’em up genre.
As usual, it’s even better when played with friends, and with four-player local co-op support, you can get a decent number of them involved for some truly chaotic action. Thanks to this being the Complete Edition, online co-op is possible as well. Other Complete Edition inclusions are playable characters Wallace and Knives Chau, and two extra modes, Battle Royale and Dodge Ball, adding some additional fun outside of the main story. Boss Rush and Survival Horror modes are unlocked from the outset, too.
Ultimately, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition requires a bit of legwork to get the best out of it. It’s worth it though, especially when you also take into consideration the game’s wonderful animation and kick-ass soundtrack. The additional characters and modes brought into the fold make it excellent value for money, too. So, whether you’re a devout Scott Pilgrim fan, or seeking out yet another side-scrolling beat ’em up to add to your collection, you’d be wise to give it a go.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition Review: GameSpew’s Score