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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game
Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
Between the retro-styled visuals, chiptune soundtrack and classic brawler gameplay, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game could be accused of attempting to manufacture nostalgia. If that's the case, it does a great job.

Don't expect rendered versions of Michael Cera or Mary Elizabeth Winstead (sorry, FenixDown). Visuals are directly inspired by Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novels, but with a retro 16-bit style. Character sprites are huge and expertly animated, right down to unique special moves and colorful (if a bit familiar) level exits.

For fans of the graphic novels, levels pack in a number of smaller details, adding another dose of fan service to a game already packed with it. You'll see characters, businesses and hints of side-plots that never made it into the movie.

It's usually a good sign when I actively track down a copy of a game's soundtrack. The soundtrack, which is composed by chiptune punk band Anamanaguchi, outright rocks and will stick with you for days. Every track fits the situation and may even cause you to replay a level or two just to hear them again.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is a brawler in the vein of Streets of Rage, Final Fight or really any beat 'em up to hit arcades in the 80's and 90's. Up to four players can play as Scott, Ramona, Stills or Kim and fight through the graphic novel's plot. If you haven't read them, it's okay (well, it's not... so get to reading) - all you really need to know is Scott likes Ramona and Ramona likes Scott. The only thing standing in the way of "Happily Ever After" is Ramona's Seven Evil Exes.

Levels are scattered across a Mario Bros. 3-styled map of snowy Toronto, with each of the Evil Exes serving as bosses. Beyond the overworld map, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is an old school brawler in every way possible. There's a simple two-button combat system with occasional D-pad/ button combos to pull off special moves. You can also use items found in levels, like bats and snowballs, as weapons.

Characters gain experience and level-up as they progress through the game. Oddly enough, characters are tied to your PSN ID. All this really means is, unless you give every player an ID on your PS3, their character levels won't save if you quit. This leads to odd inconsistencies; such as our staff play session where I had a level 9 Scott and they were with level 1 characters.

Although fun, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game ditches online multiplayer. Considering the emphasis on team-based play, this is an odd thing to leave out. Granted, part of the fun is playing with friends in the same room, but it's sometimes hard to get a group of four people together, so the option would have been nice.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game's difficulty curve is out of whack. Early on, it's a chore just to get to the end of the first section, especially when playing solo. It's doable, but a steep uphill climb. As you purchase new items and level up, the steep climb flattens out until it becomes incredibly easy. By the time I reached level 13 - 14, I was able to take out most of the Evil Exes, including the last one, without much trouble.

Difficulty scales up based on the number of players, though not by much. Levels are slightly easier to tackle, though you have to contend with an overly crowded screen. One bonus to playing with others is the ability to heal each other. If you can get to a downed player before the timer ticks to zero, you can heal them. Enemies will, of course, immediately hone in on the healer, but it's a nice option. There's also an option to steal lives from players if you run out.

Game Mechanics:
All four characters begin the game with a standard set of punches and kicks. Defeating enemies and purchasing certain items awards experience, unlocking new moves. Special moves are regulated by Guts Points, so you can't find one move and keep spamming it for the entire level. Managing Guts Points is a big part of gameplay. They allow you to recover health, heal allies and call in support from Knives.

Money is used to purchase items in the shopping district. In addition to food, you can purchase extra lives or upgrades for your character's stats. For whatever reason, you won't know what you're getting until you purchase it. A certain album might boost your character's strength, but you won't know it until you actually buy it. Gamer instinct says buy the most expensive item on the list, but if you're trying to boost a specific stat, you'll end up wasting money. It's even worse when you're trying to purchase an extra life or an experience boost and end up with a health item or speed increase. It's always fun to go back out and clobber a few bad guys, though some price tags add an unnecessary grind.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is every bit a homage to arcade brawlers as the graphic novels (and film) are to the geek culture. The lack of online play and difficulty curve are a downer, though its charm and fun make up for its shortcomings... at least slightly. Unless you have an aversion to slightly harder games or brawlers, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is worth a purchase.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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