Publishers: Ubisoft, Universal Studios
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Finally a movie game that gets it together
It’s only natural the Scott Pilgrim-verse inspire a videogame spinoff in its recent comics-to-movie migration: In his series of graphic novels, Scott relates to the world around him through videogame-tinted lenses. Then again it’s hard not to when he can only win the hand of the girl he loves by facing down and defeating her “seven evil exes.” The graphic novels effortlessly stuck every landing on the myriad of obscure gaming references (like “sub-space doors” from Super Mario Bros. 2), and the same holds true of this very clearly River City Ransom-inspired brawler.
Fortunately Scott Pilgrim doesn’t beat players over the head with its retro reference points and footnotes seen in every level—they’re just there for you to enjoy if you happen to be old and creaky enough to recognize sly nods to everything from Battletoads (in the percussion-heavy pause-menu screen) and Turtles In Time (every level opens with a lame-brained pun overlaid a slow-moving cutscene) to more overt ones like Super Mario Bros. 3 (the game’s entire overhead map).
Nostalgia goes a long way here, but you don’t even need to be familiar with the comics to get a lot of mileage out of the addictive and familiar routine of destroying every enemy on screen, taking their coins, and buying items at shops—especially with up to three other players. That being said, the difficulty also takes a cue from the 8-bit era, quickly proving nearly impossible to beat solo after the first level.
Anamanaguchi’s sublime and buzzing chip-tunes provide ample momentum to dive back in after every death, as does the just-right length to the game. The only thing that’d make this ride even better is online co-op, but that’s a trifle compared to the treasure trove of pixelated memories Scott Pilgrim will help unearth.