It’s already been said to death, but sometimes you really really just want to go back to the times before games were always online, you know? Sometimes you really just want to do some local multiplayer, unlock things in the game by actually playing it. Pick it up and play the whole thing when you want. If you’re feeling burnt out and missing that, then Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game – Complete Edition is the near-perfect homecoming story you need.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game – Complete Edition is ruthlessly, unapologetically nostalgic. Taking the classic beat ‘em up genre, and delivering it in one of the most polished forms we’ve ever seen, Scott Pilgrim is a masterclass in taking what works from retro games and making it work for a modern audience.
Wrapped up in addictive charm and reverence to the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game is the kind of story we rarely get in gaming, and lives up to the long wait, giving us hours of brutal and addictive action… as long as you have some friends to play with or a lot of patience.
Nothing I just said will come as much of a surprise to those of you that had this on your Xbox 360 back in 2010. Hitting stores more than a decade ago, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game was released alongside the film of the same name. You play with up to three pals, battling through seven stages as Scott, Ramona, Kim, and Stephen (Nega Scott can be unlocked; Knives and Wallace were added as DLC).
It feels cheap to call it a movie tie-in though. If you’ve managed to avoid all things Scott Pilgrim up to this point, the game is an astounding achievement in its own right. This is a beat ‘em up game first, and a Scott Pilgrim game second. While its reverence to the source material is a massive part of the charm, the gameplay is so solid and the art design is so gorgeous that you’d be hard-pressed to not have a good time regardless of what you thought about the film or comics.
Following the story, your quest is to defeat the league of exes, across seven areas. As you take them down, you level up your characters, unlocking new moves as you go. Characters play fairly similarly, so it doesn’t matter which one you get when you’re playing with a party. There’s only slight variation in their “special moves”, with some giving you power-ups, and others unleashing a powerful area of effect attack.
Enjoying four years on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game was suddenly taken off digital storefronts in 2014, likely due to the license expiring with Ubisoft. This put it in the ranks of lost games like P.T., only available to play legitimately if you already had it on your console. After years of radio silence, Ubisoft finally caved on calls from both fans and Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley to bring it back for the film’s tenth anniversary.
This is as faithful as ports get: fixing bugs and packaging the DLC together. Already having it on Xbox, the Switch port does not disappoint at all, giving ever-so-slightly better quality than before, so you can play it in the smoothest framerate, and on the go. It’s so faithful in fact, that there’s almost no sense in getting it if you were going for either of the other console ports unless you just really don’t want to dust off the PS3.
So what does The Complete Edition do anything differently? Well, firstly, it irons out the few issues present in the original. Whereas controls could often feel clunky, now it’s smooth and intuitive. Despite never releasing on a console resembling the Switch, it fits the console like a glove in handheld mode. It feels like it was made exclusively to be played on the go on the Switch. Unfortunately, it isn’t very compatible with my usual controller of choice (Smash controller), so just make sure your Joy Cons aren’t drifting before you play.
Casting my mind back to playing on Xbox, some of you may remember occasional stuttering while playing. In truth, I had assumed this was a feature—imitating retro games. But this obviously wasn’t the case, because that’s nowhere to be seen here. Hours and hours of grinding and taking on the exes, and not one performance issue.
The standout change of The Complete Edition is the fact that it includes all the DLC: two extra characters, and all the additional game modes. Being a bloody difficult game to beat, especially in single-player, you can expect to do a whole lot of grinding to level up and kit out your characters. The extra modes—boss rush, zombie survival, and dodgeball—all helped make the grind for XP and money less draining and mundane, to a certain extent at least.
But that can only go so far. After spending the better part of the past few days playing, it’s easy to see that this was not made with a single player in mind. Even the easiest difficulty is brutal. And occasionally, when you get a mini-game to destroy a car within a certain amount of time, it didn’t matter that I had started spamming hits as soon as the timer started—the only way to win was to have someone else with me.
Thankfully, there is online play. But getting into games with randoms proved challenging. I don’t know how the “join game” screen looks, because I could never find a match. Hosting instead, everyone I played with on a couple of days post-launch would leave as soon as they saw which stage I selected, so perhaps matchmaking could do with refining since this has so much multiplayer potential.
It’s not that there is no fun to be had in the single-player, it’s just very different. There’s a unique sense of achievement in defeating a boss all on your own, and I found that you get much better at learning all the new moves when it’s you fending for yourself. It’s just that primarily, this is a game best played with mates.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game – Complete Edition revels in its difficulty, as well as the graphic novel it borrows from. For just $15, what you get is a delight of a beat ‘em up to play online with friends, and an uphill struggle to take on yourself if you’re into that sort of thing. Wrapping it up in gorgeous visuals and an astounding soundtrack, it’s hard to go wrong here.
If you didn’t pick this up in its original run, absolutely give it a go now. Easy to fall in love with, and satisfying as hell to beat, it’s well worth the price of admission and the trip down memory lane.
Scott Pilgrim is back, and it’s as geeky, oozing with charm, and bloody frustrating as ever.
TechRaptor reviewed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game – Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.