After nearly a decade of unavailability, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game is back on modern platforms! Now that all the pesky licensing has been worked out, what does that mean for you? How does it fit in with the modern beat-’em-up genre? Is it worth a second play? Let’s dig into it.
What does the Complete Edition offer?
Simply put, the biggest selling point for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game — Complete Edition is availability. While the game’s largely the same as it was a decade ago, the business deals required? They’re a lot. To release this again, publisher Ubisoft and movie licensor Universal had to get on the same page, as well as Scott Pilgrim creator Brian Lee O’Malley and the development studios. Maybe Anamanaguchi, too? Everything’s always more complicated than you’d think. Just take a look at the game’s lengthy credits sequence to get an idea of how many parties and people were involved in a seemingly small game.
However it happened, it’s great that it’s back. (Especially for physical game outfit Limited Run Games, for whom asking about Scott Pilgrim became a well-known meme.) The work was done to get these PS4 and Switch ports running well. The original release’s add-on characters are bundled. This is largely a preservation of the original experience rather than bringing anything new to the table.
That said: there is a new thing! Sort of. The Complete Edition includes the online multiplayer added to the original three years after its release, and with the timing and fanfare of this new version, you’ll have a much better opportunity to take advantage of it. We’ve had a lot of trouble getting this to connect properly, but it’s still before the game’s launch, so these issues will likely get sorted out with patches and a full user base.
Still, here’s how it works: you can choose a particular stage, then begin matchmaking to play it. It’s not the connected, coherent play session we’d really want, but it likely presented fewer technical hurdles. (And what has worked just fine for us pre-launch is the console’s built-in sharing, which allows the full local-style experience if you want it.) The multiplayer side modes aren’t included, so they remain local-only (or Share Play only) for this release.
Is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World worth playing for the first time in 2021?
This is the interesting question, as the belt action genre isn’t as starved for quality as it was a decade ago! With new games like Streets of Rage 4 and more localizations of games like Kunio-kun that inspired the dev team, players are being served well. Still, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World stands up well.
It’s firmly in the Kunio-kun school of brawler, with friendly fire on by default and lots of cool items to pick up. You can stun-lock basic enemies fairly easily to take them down, but they can do the same to you! And there’s almost always another foe on the screen to draw your attention. The art style is a timeless retro homage. Few games have a soundtrack as catchy as the one Anamanaguchi cooked up. The controls are precise, and there’s the right blend of skill and chaos to keep laughing as you push your way through.
Is there a glaring exploit in the game’s progression system that you can use to nullify any real difficulty? Yeah. (We’re not talking about the particulars here to preserve your play experience. If you want to learn about this, it’s easy to find that information!) Does it feel like it’s hard to judge enemy hitboxes sometimes, especially when they’re moving forward and backward? For sure, there’s some of that.
But Scott Pilgrim vs. the World still gets a lot more right than wrong. It understands pacing and variety. It builds stages with gameplay arcs in mind, which is refreshing in a genre that can often devolve into mind-numbing button mashing. And it fits like a glove with its source material.
Should fans of the original release double-dip?
If you missed the DLC in the original release, it’s a nice thing to check out on a return trip. Knives Chau and Wallace Wells both feel like they’re not for newbies, which makes sense. And hey, maybe a new platform will let you coax friends and family into playing your fun game with you?
Otherwise, if you are buying it again, you’re doing it to better have a game you like at your fingertips or to support the teams behind it. Or you’re buying that Limited Run edition and getting a bunch of physical goodies. From a pure gameplay perspective, there’s not a lot here to justify a second purchase, so consider it more like voting with your wallet than making an investment in new play experiences.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game — Complete Edition launches digitally January 14, 2021 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Google Stadia and Nintendo Switch. A physical release is available from Limited Run Games.