As a beat ‘em up, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game takes everything we know and love about pixel art, chiptunes, and just about anything nerdy and rolls it all up into an homage to gaming's past (and a nice promotional piece for the upcoming film starring Michael Cera).
Based on the comics by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim is an up to four-player romp through seven levels retelling the most ridiculous coming of age story you've ever heard. Beating up endless waves of similarly-styled bad dudes, robots, and evil ex-boyfriends is the name of the game -- nothing more, nothing less. Fortunately, the game features enough throwback polish and style to deliver an entertaining and worthwhile (and nerdcore-ily satisfying) experience for anyone who grew up with an NES.
While presented in a deliberately pixilated manner, Scott Pilgrim animates with almost an almost hand-drawn feel; there are a significantly higher amount of frames of animation that occur during the passage of Scott's fist to his enemy's face (or stupid glasses) than one would expect from an 8-bit throwback. In motion, Scott Pilgrim looks anything but 8-bit; more accurately, the game feels like it could find a welcome home on an SNK cabinet, circa 1990.
Though much has been made about how Scott Pilgrim takes great efforts in championing gaming's past through presentation and style, the game is very much a mechanically sound beat 'em up. While it is noted that it doesn't take much to achieve this, the degree of care that went in to Scott Pilgrim creates a nostalgic, smile-inducing experience. Of course, side-scrolling brawlers are almost by definition repetitive, but to its credit, Scott Pilgrim offers the player a solid sense of progression.
Sometimes brutal, other times downright cheap, the package as a whole offers what you’d expect in a side scrolling brawler: cheap enemies being cheap so that you have to be cheap back to them to win. Not that there’s anything wrong with this. Each level is coated with references to everything from Golden Axe to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and features an excellent chiptune soundtrack by Anamanaguchi.
More advanced than one would expect (but by no means revolutionary), the game takes an archaic concept and succeeds in making it somewhat fresh. Small additions to the brawler formula, such as juggling bodies, a rudimentary blocking mechanic, and the ability to hit enemies while their grounded frees the gameplay from the punch-kick bondage that often restrict 2D brawlers.
As you progress, gameplay stays incredibly fresh and never will you feel as if the experience tapers off or dulls. Scott Pilgrim is further seasoned by an RPG-esque twist by allowing you to level-up each of the four characters to unlock new moves and abilities. Shops allow you to pad your stats, something that becomes a necessity at harder difficulties.