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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Complete Edition

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Stadia, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Jan. 14, 2021


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Switch Review - 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Complete Edition'

by Cody Medellin on Jan. 13, 2021 @ 3:01 a.m. PST

With the return of Scott Pilgrim, players rediscover the beloved 2D arcade-style, beat-'em-up game, inspired by the iconic graphic novel series and 2010 Universal Pictures film.

Buy Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - Complete Edition

In August of 2010, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game was released on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the same week that the movie came out in theaters. In the past, that would be a warning sign that players would be in for a rushed and rough gaming experience. To everyone's delight, the game was a great throwback to brawlers of the past, with the only lament being its lack of online multiplayer, which was rectified a year later with the second DLC character. Its status as a digital-only title, coupled with the game's eventual delisting from Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, meant that only those with working PS3s/Xbox 360s would be able to replay it. A little over 10 years since its initial release, the game has returned as a complete edition on a plethora of platforms, including the Nintendo Switch.

Scott Pilgrim, bassist for the rock band Sex Bob-Omb, has fallen head over heels for a girl named Ramona Flowers. The feeling is mutual on Ramona's side, but she has baggage in the form of her seven evil exes who aren't willing to let her go emotionally without a fight. With his friends and Ramona teaming up, Scott is determined to defeat each evil ex, one at a time.

Although the game was released at the same time as the movie, there's more of an influence from the graphic novels, even if the plots are the same. For example, you see more of the subspace highway that Ramona uses for her job as an Amazon delivery person, while you get to fight off Knives Chau's dad if you search for the skirmish. Like any good game, the references are going to be rewarding for those who are familiar with the material, and there are a number of video game-specific references thrown in for good measure, but those who aren't as familiar won't be impacted too much by what they're missing out on.

The game is a beat-'em-up at its core, but it tries to emulate the NES classic River City Ransom, which makes it a deeper experience. Scott Pilgrim is presented in the classic tilted side-scrolling style, so you'll walk from left to right almost all of the time, beating up anyone standing in your path. You can always backtrack to the left if needed. Aside from your fists and feet, you can pick up objects to use as weapons, including the bodies of any knocked-down enemies (except for bosses). As enemies are defeated, they explode into coins, and that currency is used in shops to buy items to increase your health, pump up your stats, or both.

With a solid base to work with, the developers added more improvements. For starters, this is a four-player co-op affair, where you can choose to either be Scott, Ramona, Kim Pine, or Stephen Stills. Knives Chau and Wallace Wells are also here as playable characters, but they don't appear in the cut scenes. New moves are learned by leveling up instead of through books that you need to buy. You can lend money to your partners instead of redoing fights and making sure they pick up the coins instead.

The combat system is probably a surprise, since you can juggle enemies and toss out a few combos. You can call on special allies to assist you and pull off team taunts that eventually call on a giant yeti to do screen-clearing moves. Some of the special moves are powered by a new Guts meter, but there's a balance since Guts can be converted into health once that meter is drained. Playing in co-op means that you can give them a bit of health if they need it and revive your partners if they go down. Fail to do that before they run out of lives, and they can go around as a ghost for a short while, choosing whether to steal a life from one of their partners before fading away.

There's a considerable amount of depth in the game, and the variety between the more traditional fights and some of the creative boss fights, such as Guitar Hero-inspired rhythm mechanics, ensures that the experience never feels old — an impressive feat when you consider the game's length. The only knock one may have about this title is that the fun only shines once you have a friend in tow. The initial levels are still doable if you're playing solo, and the game remains enjoyable, but you'll need to grind much sooner because the crowds are overwhelming until you reach a certain level.

Beyond the campaign, the game features four minigames for all four players. Battle Royale is the typical fighting mode that was introduced in a number of other older beat-'em-ups. It works fine as something basic, but it isn't something you'll go back to more than once. Boss Rush mode is fine for those who either want to practice or want nonstop challenges. Dodge Ball is a nice throwback to classics like Super Dodge Ball and is a 2v2 affair instead of using full teams. Of the minigames, Survival Horror is the one that will get repeat play sessions. Even though it is basic survival mode where you're fighting zombies instead of normal enemies, the fact that you can gain XP and coins and have that carry over into the campaign makes this a great alternative to replaying previously beaten levels.

Although it was introduced late in the original game's life cycle, online play is present in the Complete Edition from day one, with support for up to four players in either public or private matches. The online performance is almost spotless, with no hints of lag in our admittedly small review player pool, but it bodes well for when the gates are thrown open to the public. Don't expect the online play to be too dynamic; you can't combine local players with online players, and you're at the mercy of the game throwing you into random matches versus being able to pick and choose ones that are available. While you can't go online for the minigames, you can play in any level from the get-go without having to unlock everything offline first.

Even those who disliked the game a decade ago would admit that the presentation was top-notch, and the fact that this edition changes nothing but the resolution remains a testament to how good it was — and still is. The pixel artwork from Paul Robertson perfectly captures the graphic novel's look, with ultra-smooth animations despite the multitude of characters on-screen. The backgrounds are well detailed and playful, while the color scheme is absolutely vibrant. Complementing that is a chiptune soundtrack from Anamanaguchi that is high energy and timeless, with tracks that rival the best in the genre even today. If you're a fan of the genre, you'll likely play this soundtrack outside of the game.

It may be a little over 10 years old, but Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - Complete Edition remains a top-tier title for beat-'em-up fans. The changes and improvements made over the original River City Ransom formula make it a tight game that feels rich in its genre, while the presence of online play resolves the main criticism in the original title. Those who have played the game before will enjoy that it's portable on the Switch, but those coming in fresh will find this to be a gem on a system that's already flush with excellent beat-'em-ups, both past and present.

Score: 9.0/10

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