For most of video game history, adaptations of major feature films for consoles have been atrocious. They’re almost always cheaply designed and developed, often having little to do with the film itself. The market has since dried up for the most part, but I can still remember playing video game adaptations of “Monsters vs. Aliens,” “Megamind,” and “Up” that were about as creative as Happy Meal tie-in toys. Luckily, modern games based on blockbusters have been allowed to spin off into their development process, like the recent release of “Marvel’s The Avengers,” which blends comic and MCU imagery into an entirely new product. The point is that a good game based on a film, especially one not made for kids, is almost unheard of, and that’s one of the reasons the legend of “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game” grew in the last decade.
Based on the graphic novels of the same name by Bryan Lee O’Malley and released in conjunction with the Edgar Wright film of the same name back in August 2010, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game” was available for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network gamers but was delisted in December of 2014, gaining something of a mythical status before its return this month for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Amazon Luna, and Stadia in a complete edition from Ubisoft. The game grew in cult status in part because of its unavailability but also because of the people behind it: O’Malley and Wright were involved in the development with the source writer even consulting on how its story should unfold. A punk band (of course) named Anamanaguchi performed the truly excellent soundtrack.
The game is a side-scrolling brawler that recalls arcade games of a couple generations ago. It follows the story of the graphic novels in its own way but allows players to step into the shoes of Scott Pilgrim, Ramona Flowers, Kim Pine, or Stephen Stills (and other characters like NegaScott, Knives Chau, and Wallace Wells can be unlocked later). There are seven levels to battle through to defeat Ramona’s seven evil exes, and each character has different move sets that can be unlocked. It’s a simple game in which waves of bad guys have to be defeated, often using weapons in the environment, and it’s interrupted by larger enemies and sections of the game wherein people can buy items to regain health or boost abilities. That’s really it. But it’s an addictive game in that its old-fashioned simplicity hides a deeper challenge, given the number of moves and characters that can be combined. It’s also tough. In “Scott Pilgrim,” moves have to be mastered and characters have to be upgraded to really get anywhere.
The game’s return is a fun story in a different way. As the tenth anniversary of the unavailable game approached, Bryan Lee O’Malley and Edgar Wright tweeted at Ubisoft and asked them to bring the game back in May 2020. Three months later, O’Malley tweeted that they had reached out to him, and a remaster of the game with all DLC was announced the next month. It’s possible that Ubisoft was working on it behind the scenes, but it’s better to think that the two men who started the cult of “Scott Pilgrim” brought this game back to life for its loyal fans.
And here we are, experiencing this simple, addictive beat-’em-up yet again across multiple consoles. On Switch, which I played on, it’s a really fun game to pick up and play for a little bit when time is limited. I imagine I’ll be doing so for some time to come.
Ubisoft provided a review copy of this game.